Although people in New Hampshire and most other parts of our country would give you a very strange look if you ordered a “creemee”, in Vermont, this is just the term for soft serve ice cream. In fact, the original “creemees” had a higher fat content than regular soft serve, making them extra creamy, according to that illustrious source of all information, Urban Dictionary.
This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Randolph, VT (to the Chandler Center for the Arts) as a part of Not Your Mom’s Musical Theater’s tour of The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!. While traveling with my husband from NH to VT, we knew we had extra time to kill, so I was on the lookout for a fun diversion. When I saw the sign for Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop up ahead as we drove through East Montpelier, memories flooded back of last winter, when I followed a sign on a whim and enjoyed sugar on snow and a lot of other tasty treats during maple sugaring season at Bragg Farm. So I told Ross I’d found our adventure and to make a right for the sugarhouse.
When we pulled in, we saw lots of signs for creemees – in chocolate and, more importantly, maple. I instantly knew I’d made the right decision. Where else would we be able to get homemade soft serve in February, after all?
After a quick photo, we headed inside, where the sheer amount of maple products on offer again confirmed I’d made the right call. Ross had never visited Bragg Farm and I was looking forward to a second peek. One of the owners graciously showed us where “the magic happens” – this is an old-fashioned sugarhouse and they use buckets on trees to tap the syrup – and then she invited us to sample all of the different maple grades. Don’t mind if we do, thanks!
We started with the lightest and mildest of the maple syrups, working our way counter clockwise until concluding with the darkest, richest flavor, formerly known as Grade B syrup. All of it was delightful, with our favorite of course being the strongest of the syrups.
After sampling the syrups and a few of the other offerings (including jams and sauces), we headed toward the creemees. I was slightly nervous that the offerings might be seasonal, but I held out hope because the temporary signs by the road indicated creemees were still on offer.
When I looked up, one of the owners noticed me looking at the signs – ice cream sundaes and different creemee sizes and options were displayed. When he asked if we needed a creemee, I relaxed and smiled and put in my order – a small maple creemee in a cup. My husband Ross got the same, but in a cone, allowing for a much nicer photo op.
The maple soft serve ice cream, or creemee, is the perfect vehicle for Bragg Farm’s excellent maple syrup. The texture is perfect, smooth and creamy, with a definite maple flavor throughout that doesn’t get lost in the ice cream. It’s really, really pleasant – never grainy or watery or inconsistent.
After enjoying our fantastic treats and admiring the view, we headed back to the counter and thanked the owners. They confirmed the creemees are made on the premises by adding their own darkest syrup to a local dairy ice cream base. The fact that the sugarhouse is open year-round makes this a must stop, and it’s cheap too! We only paid $2.25 for our small, which was a great portion and not the smallest size on the menu. Bring cash as there is a $10 minimum for credit and debit cards, although that would be easy to meet by purchasing another maple product or two.
(As a note, I imagine that there are better maple soft serve flavors out there – using maple syrup in the base could strengthen the flavor, at least in theory. But I am happy that I can highly recommend this without any qualms, probably in no small part due to the excellent local dairy base in addition to the fantastic syrup.)
According to their website, the family has been producing Vermont maple syrup for eight generations! If you can’t make it to the sugarhouse for a visit, they have lots of great gifts and products available on their website. There really is no excuse to skip a visit when you’re passing through – they are open at 8:30 a.m. every day and close at 6 p.m. – and from June – August, they stay open until 8 p.m.! They also have a lot of other educational offerings you can incorporate into your visit, including a few animals to meet, a free guided tour, a video and much more according to their site. Friday – Sunday, 12-5 p.m., from March – mid-April is the time to experience their Sugar – on – Snow – a must try.
Have you visited Bragg Farm? If not, have you gotten to experience the joy of maple soft serve elsewhere? I know that Meadow Ice Cream in Littleton (which carries Slick’s) & Slick’s in Woodsville carries some. I honestly feel like if you have the chance to get maple soft serve (homemade) and you don’t, you’re probably doing something wrong. At least the New York Post seems to agree with me!
Thanks so much for reading. (And thank you also to those of you making purchases through my Amazon link!) Stay warm out there!